When I first entered this race my plan had been to attempt a new 10K PB as after setting my current one in Lincoln earlier in the year I did at the time think I could do better as I wasn’t running flat out at the end. Over the summer I’d had a lot of bad runs, but I still didn’t think it was out of the question as the majority of my training runs were still not that much slower than my PB. However, after booking a holiday in the States that would get me back into the country the day before started to make this feel unlikely – but I hoped I still could.
On the day of the race I awoke at a time that is later than normal for a Sunday – but still felt tired. I’d not slept that well even though I’d just awoken after having over 24 hours awake due to wanting to beat jet lag quickly. Unfortunately that didn’t help with preparation for a race. It being a midday race though did mean I had time to take it easy before heading over to Rockingham. I did however manage to forget my event clips so had to use safety pins when I got there.
Over the past week I’d gotten used to the Californian temperatures – even though it was November it was still warmer than here in the UK. To try and combat this I wore an extra layer in hope I’d stay warm, and stayed inside the paddocks for as long as I could until it was time for the 10K runners to assemble outside. Before the race it was good to meet up with so many runners from the #UKRunChat team and community. I’d met quite a few of them before so it was good to catch up with them again.
At the start it seemed weird – it didn’t feel like there were that many runners doing the 10K and a lot were holding back quite a way behind the start line – this meant I was starting with those planning to run it in sub-40. I knew I didn’t have the energy to attempt a PB – I was still too tired from the flight, but I started fast; too fast. At the first water station I put my hand up to say “hi” to @JenningsNicola who was marshalling today. Before long I looked at my watch and realised that I’d already run the first half a mile at a sub-6min/mile pace so instantly started to slow and hoped I wouldn’t regret it later. Up until this point there had only been a few runners in front of me but at this point a few more overtook.
A little after this @DavidNFLF1 caught up and we ran more or less side by side for approximately a mile, but I knew I couldn’t keep the pace in the windy sections so dropped back. He was running strong, and it was impressive to see him not falter during the times of strong winds. Eventually the route left the inner-circuit and rejoined the outer circuit for the rest of the first lap. This bit was far more familiar from the Brass Monkey 10K back in January and sure enough that last straight was once again windy making it difficult to maintain any speed. I did however see @amy__everett running along the inside circuit at this point though so that was a positive to see she was doing well.
The course then left the outer circuit to go through the pit straight for the first time – even this was not a safe haven from the wind. By the time I reached the corner with the water station where it goes back into the inner circuit I was starting to feel tired. Not just physically, but mentally – I wanted to walk, or even better: to sleep. I started to promise myself that if I made it running to the next corner that I’d allow myself to walk, but when I got there I’d tell myself the next corner instead. This then kept going for sometime until for the first time in the race I briefly had a tail wind to help me forward.
As I reached the 5 mile marker I glanced at my watch to make sure it was going okay and realised that my watch said 4.5 miles – I didn’t understand this! I knew I’d tried to keep to the best racing lane and hadn’t really deviated from it, so wondered if I’d now need to start taking corners wide. I didn’t though I kept to the tightest line I could see through the course, curious as to what distance I’d finish with. It didn’t bother me too much if I fell short as I already knew by this point that I couldn’t get a PB, though I also really didn’t want to walk during a 10K.
After rejoining the outer circuit I saw a few more from the #UKRunChat community. I didn’t want them to see me struggling so I tried to keep going. Jetlag had slowed me down. I hadn’t walked up to this point and I knew the finish wasn’t that far away, I just needed to carry on that little bit longer. Eventually the pit straight came into view and it was a chance to pick up speed for the last bit of the race.
I saw another runner about half way along the pit straight so I sprinted to catch up then matched his speed before carrying on with sprinting to the finish line. It had been a hard race, but I was pleased to have not walked it. Looking at my watch I was a little puzzled – I had the distance as 6.34 miles despite thinking I was short from taking the tightest line I could. It’s common to go over the distance as it’s rare you get to run the optimal line. Although I hadn’t done any overtaking until the finish I must have deviated from it at some point to have managed to have gone over by that much.
I didn’t manage a PB, I didn’t even manage to get to the times that were typical during training. I finished with an official time of 44:10 in gun (and gender) position 13 of a field of 212 10K runners (top 6.1% this time). My age group position (M30-34) put me in 4th place.
Once the race was over I collected my medal and then stood and cheered on members of the #UKRunChat community as they passed through the pit straight. I was especially impressed by @sherieamore1 and @shellmoby who were both doing this race (10 mile and 10K distances respectively) as their 15th day of a runstreak. Every now and then I hopped back inside the paddock to warm up a little, and not that long before I left I realised there were also crisps and a goodie bag with water in for finishers.
The course was good – nice and flat and not overcrowded meaning it really did have great PB potential. Sadly I just couldn’t do it this time. Maybe it was the wind, or the jet lag – what’s more likely though is that I’m just not as fast as I was earlier in the year. Having done a 10K at Rockingham twice this year, and both times it having strong winds in the same places I now suspect this may always be the case for this course. Once I’ve figured out what big races I’m doing in the latter half of next year I’ll then decide if I’ll be having another go at this one – a chance to try and do better. Next time though I may consider doing the 10 mile distance instead.